LAFC and Vancouver ready to renew their ‘little rivalry’ – Daily News

LAFC forward Denis Bouanga, right, attempts to push the ball upfield as Ranko Veselinovic of the Vancouver Whitecaps defends during the second half of a match last June at BMO Stadium. The teams have faced each other six times in 2023 in various competitions and will meet again on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Are Los Angeles Football Club and Vancouver Whitecaps rivals?

After playing a half-dozen matches in 2023, including a playoff sweep for LAFC, Major League Soccer thought so, placing the first meeting this year on the league’s rivalry week schedule.

“It feels like a little rivalry because we’ve seen them so many times,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said Friday. “Luckily for us we came out on top, so I can imagine them trying to repeat what they did at us last year to try and get a win. It should be an enjoyable and intense match.

Over the course of 13 league encounters, LAFC have doubled the Whitecaps’ number of goals, shots and penalties – but where it counts, the club has fallen one win short, with the difference being a 3-2 defeat at the stadium BMO last June.

With more points on the line, LAFC eliminated Vancouver, knocking Italian head coach Vanni Sartini’s group out of the MLS playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League by a combined score of 12-2 .

With the game-winning goal last November plunging Vancouver into the winter cold, Bouanga lost seven goals and two assists against Sartini’s teams.

“I have to be honest,” Sartini said, “Bouanga has been a bit of, I don’t know, the guy who kills us every time. I don’t know the English word for that.

Webster’s can add Sartini’s “Bougeyman”. The Frenchman’s efforts preceded a managerial debacle on the bench and in front of the cameras, which saw him fined and suspended for six games (reduced to four) before his return at the end of March.

“I’m really looking forward to this game,” said Sartini, who described LAFC as the Whitecaps’ biggest rivals from last year. “I hope to finish the game this time. It’s always difficult to play there. Even if they haven’t had the best start, they have a very good record at home (4-0-2).

“We will go there with respect but without fear at all and try to score three points.”

The Whitecaps (5-2-3, 18 points) remain the only Western Conference team without a defeat on the road, going 3-0-1 away from BC and holding a three-point advantage over LAFC (4-4-3). , 15 points) with a game in hand by doing what Saturday’s hosts failed to do in MLS competition: winning away. Since winning at BMO Stadium 11 months ago, Vancouver has the best road record in MLS (7-3-4).

“They understand their identity and they stick to it, and that’s the recipe for success in this league, but in any league really, if you ask me,” Cherundolo said. “Hats off to them.”

Both teams have scored 18 goals, but fourth-place Vancouver has a plus-eight goal differential compared to LAFC’s minus-one goal differential.